A stigmatized property is one that has an unfavourable quality that may make it less attractive for reasons that are unrelated to its physical condition. For Example: a suicide or death in the property, the property was the scene of a major crime, the address of the property has the wrong numerals, or reports that a property is haunted. What one person finds unacceptable may not be a stigma to another. Sellers don’t have to disclose peculiar or disturbing facts or circumstances about their home…. unless you specifically ask.
If you are a buyer, you need to have that conversation with your REALTOR. Make your opinions clear and ensure to communicate any concerns; and always ask if you have a suspicion So if you don’t want to live in a home where a murder took place, and you specify that with your agent, they can ask the seller’s agent, and the seller is obligated to answer honestly. But if you don’t ask, they’re not going to tell.
As a seller, it is up to you to decide if you want to disclose a possible stigma to a potential buyer. You are not legally required to do so.
As a seller you can:
- refuse to answer the buyer’s question(s)
- answer the question with a disclaimer that the buyer should not rely on the accuracy of the information and to verify the information for themselves
- answer the question without qualification
If a buyer asks you about possible stigma, and if you choose to answer, you must do so honestly. You cannot lie to potential buyers about stigma.
You may be worried that disclosing a stigma will negatively affect the value of your property. On the other hand, if you aren’t willing to answer questions about possible stigma, it may scare some buyers away.
Ultimately, it is completely your decision whether to disclose stigma. Your real estate professional cannot disclose stigma to a potential buyer without your permission.
Sources: Real Estate Council of Alberta